Healthify Blog

The Impact of Workplace Stress on Minorities

In a recent study, a group of researchers concluded that 10 to 38 percent of the difference in life expectancy across demographic groups can be explained by differences in their job conditions.
 
The study reviewed 228 studies that looked at how ten workplace stressors — including safety, job security, and employees’ sense of control over their jobs — affected health, then further broke down the results by race, NYMAG reported.
workplace.jpg
Workplace image credit: By LaurMG. (Cropped from "File:Frustrated man at a desk.jpg".)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The study, published in the journal Health Affairs by co-authors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Stefanos Zenios of Stanford and Joel Goh of Harvard, found that work stress adversely affects the health of minority groups more than Caucasians.
 
As for what's mainly driving that disparity? Education. 
 
"People with different levels of education get sorted into jobs with different degrees of exposure to workplace attributes that contribute to poor health," the study's abstract states.
 
NYMAG reported that the average black man in the study with less than a high school degree lost, on average, an estimated 1.7 years of longevity from workplace stressors. Non-Hispanic white women with more than a college degree, on the other hand, were the least impacted group, losing just 0.3 years of life from workplace stress.
 
Given that minorities generally aren't attaining the same education levels as Caucasians, and given that lower education levels generally lead to more unstable jobs with worse hours and benefits, it makes sense that minorities would suffer from greater work stress.
 
By efficiently connecting vulnerable populations, including minority groups, to social programs that can help them in areas such as education, Healthify's goal is to assist underserved people in achieving good health. 
 
The hope is that the disparities we currently see in society — not only in adverse work stress but in social determinants of health such as housing and food — can be reduced, if not one day eliminated.
Topics: social determinants of health health disparities public health